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Texas Investor Harold Rosbottom Seeks to Turn Old
Santa Fe, New Mexico Hospital Buildings Into Hotel


By Tom Sharpe, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 
 

April 19, 2006 - Texas investor Harold Rosbottom Jr., who has gambling interests in New Mexico, Louisiana and South Africa, is looking to remodel Santa Fe’s Marian Hall and possibly the rest of the old hospital into a boutique hotel.

Christopher Webster, who with two partners bought the property from the state in 2002, acknowledged last week that he had been in contact with Rosbottom. But Webster said a number of options are being considered for the property at East Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta. “There’s nothing there as a story,” he said. “I’ve got four to five times as many things that have been thrown out there to us for consideration or discussion purposes in the past 15 to 30 days.” Marian Hall, completed in 1910, and the old St. Vincent Hospital building, completed in the early 1950s, were used as hospitals until St. Vincent moved to St. Michael’s Drive in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, the state bought the buildings and began using them as offices.

After Webster, a real-estate broker, plumbing contractor Steve Duran and developer Lee Clodfelter acquired the property — including vacant utility buildings and a parking lot for more than 100 cars — and leased it to the state for offices and to Presbyterian Medical Services for a longterm-care facility. The partnership renamed the old hospital La Villa Rivera.

Presbyterian still leases part of La Villa Rivera’s first floor for an outpatient clinic, but the Department of Cultural Affairs recently moved out of the building. A film-production company leases space there, but much of the building is vacant. The state Public Regulation Commission is still based in Marian Hall.

Except for the city-owned Cathedral Park at the corner of Palace Avenue and Cathedral Place, the rest of the block is owned by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Any hotel project would come just as the archdiocese works to develop its property. Church officials are looking to develop the 6 acres, minus the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and other church-related buildings, for a hotel, shops and residences.

The archdiocese proposed 11 buildings with 53 percent of the footprint designated three-story , up to 46 feet tall. But the Historic Design Review Board voted to allow no more than 15 percent of the new buildings to be three stories. The archdiocese has appealed to the City Council.

La Villa Rivera, the old hospital building, is five stories in places, with its tallest point at 76 feet — second only in height to the 82-foot cathedral in downtown Santa Fe. La Fonda, just across Cathedral Place, is downtown’s thirdhighest structure at 69 feet.

Rosbottom, who lives in Dallas , and two Louisiana partners bought The Downs at Santa Fe in 1994. The next year, they sold the horse-racing track to Pojoaque Pueblo. Pojoaque closed the track in 1998 after it failed to get state approval to expand reservation gaming to the new site.

Rosbottom is now a partner in New Mexico Gaming LLC, a licensed distributor of video-gambling machines to the non-Indian market in New Mexico. “New Mexico recently legalized machine gaming for veteran and fraternal organizations and racetracks in New Mexico,” says a prospectus for Rosbottom Interests of Shreveport , La.

The prospectus says the firm established Nitro Gaming Inc. “to pursue video gaming at licensed truck-stop locations (and) currently operates, through direct ownership or partnerships, 22 locations” in Louisiana, and is in a joint venture with Safika Africa Gaming International for a gambling operation in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, where casinos recently were legalized.

Rosbottom’s firm last month purchased the historic Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham, Ala., and announced plans to remodel it and reopen it as a Hilton Hotel. Rosbottom also is a director of Integral Hospitality Solutions, a Birminghambased firm that manages more than two dozen Hampton Inns, including those in Albuquerque , Gallup and Taos. Contact Tom Sharpe at 995-3813 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican .com. 

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Santa Fe New Mexican

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